Reggae on the River organizers are trying to sound a "safe, family event" note at the same time that they're scrambling for more details about a reported sex assault in a campground south of the festival.
The scramble hasn't been made easier by an apparent mis-communication between Humboldt and Mendocino county sheriff's departments.
Back on July 21, Humboldt sheriff's officers responded to a woman at Garberville's hospital and took her report that two men forced her into a tent and assaulted her around 3 a.m. that morning. They gathered evidence that could be used in a rape investigation, according to sheriff's spokesman Lt. Steve Knight.
But since the ugly mess unfolded at Cooks Valley Campground just south of the county line, they took the report as a courtesy to the Mendocino County sheriff's department, and would normally have sent it on to Mendocino.
Instead, it sat, until the Journal and KHUM started calling asking about rape rumors, Knight said.
"It appears to be an oversight," he said. "Evidence was collected but for some unknown reason the report was not sent to Mendocino County."
The report was faxed to Mendocino this afternoon -- more than a week later -- "because you [the media] told us about it," Knight said, adding he located the report more easily after getting the time and date of the episode from the radio station.
The buzz about the mystery crime report has frustrated Justin Crellin, general manager of the Mateel Community Center, a nonprofit whose biggest annual fundraiser is the 28-year-old reggae show. The Mateel-organized camping at Benbow this year was safe, said Crellin, and other camping wasn't under the Mateel's control. Crelling said the festival shouldn't be tarred by things that happened miles away or by memories of older, rowdier years.
"Back in the day there were untold numbers of people," he said. "It's really been scaled back to a very safe, friendly event."
Reggae has gotten safer, but women should stay alert and shouldn't attend alone, said Sgt. Ken Swithenbank, the south area commander for the Humboldt Sheriff's Department. "It seems like there's almost always some sort of sexual assault reported at Reggae. That's just the reported ones. I'm sure there's much more. It's an issue and I don't see it going away anytime soon, due to the alcohol and drugs."
Press release from the Humboldt County Sheriffs Office:
On 07-27-2012, approximately 11:00 p.m. the Humboldt County Sheriffs Office received a call regarding an assault with firearm which just occurred on Main Street, Alderpoint. A Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputy and California Highway Patrol Officer responded to the scene. Upon their arrival the deputy spoke with the 27 year old male victim, a resident of the Alderpoint area. The victim told the deputy he left Dino’s PoolSchool about 11:00 p.m. The victim saw the suspect, known to him as, “Randy” , on a green quad runner down the street. The victim yelled at “Randy” and “Randy” pulled a gun out of his waist band and began shooting at the victim several times. The victim immediately fled the scene and called the sheriff’s office.
The deputy located a bullet hole in the victim’s vehicle near where the victim had been standing. The deputy checked the area with the C.H.P. Officers, but they were unable to locate “Randy”.
Randy is further described as: Hispanic Male, with his left eye being blind and droopy in appearance. He was last seen wearing a dark Carhardt Jacket and dark colored jeans.
Anyone with information for the Sheriffs Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriffs Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriffs Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.
When Cuban-American rapper Armando Cristian Pérez, aka Pitbull, makes a rare appearance at a Walmart in Kodiak, Alaska on Monday, former Humboldt resident David Thorpe will be along for the ride. In fact Thorpe is personally responsible for sending the rapper to what he figured was the most remote Walmart in the United States.
In his "Big Hurt" column for the alt. weekly Boston Phoenix, Thorpe reported on a promotional effort in which, as Thorpe put it, "High-integrity Zumbacore sensation Pitbull is the filling of another fully non-absurd promo sandwich: big-box shopping, Latin club anthems, and tongue-dissolvable caffeine strips." To be specific Walmart and Energy Sheets® caffeine strips promised to send the rapper to whatever Walmart gets the most "likes" on Facebook.
Using his Twitter account, Thorpe "started a campaign to exile Pitbull to the Walmart on Kodiak Island, an icy, bear-infested locale just south of Alaska." Gawker picked up the story as did the Associated Press and #ExilePitbull went viral. The Kodiak Walmart ended up with well over 66,000 likes (the town has around 6,000 residents) and won the contest. At that point Pitbull invited "that someone who thinks it's a joke" (Thorpe) to join him in Kodiak.
Challenge accepted -- Thorpe is on his way to Kodiak (on Pitbull's dime).
The rapper seems to be taking the whole exile thing in stride. The fact is, the promotion was a success: a lot of people who'd never heard of Energy Sheets are now aware of the product.
And Pitbull is unabashed when it comes to using his fame to sell products. As reported in a recent profile in GQ, "Along with Kodak, Bud Light, and Voli [vodka], Pit endorses Dr. Pepper and Zumba Fitness, which builds workout programs around his music. He also has equity in these dissolvable tongue squares called Sheets Energy Strips. Last year he made a reported $6 million this way, being hip hop's foremost shill."
The story goes on to quote the rapper known as Mr. Worldwide saying, "Look, Pitbull is a product. Don't get it fucked up -- I'm a businessman. This industry is 90 percent business, 10 percent talent. It's the people who think they're talented, that their shit don't stink, who get left behind. ... Two thousand nine was freedom, 2010 was invasion, 2011 was takeover, 2012 is grow wealth."
From sports scores to news reports: Longtime KIEM Sports Director Manny Machado has been named the station's next news director, filling the position last held by the polarizing Betsy Lambert. Station Manager Roy Frostenson announced Machado's promotion to the station's staff this afternoon.
"I'm thrilled that Manny has agreed to take on the extra duties of news director," Frostenson told the Journal shortly afterward. "I think that he's the perfect person to lead our news operation forward."
Machado will remain the sports anchor while managing the news side from behind the scenes, Frostenson said.
While not quite a full-fledged local by old-timer standards (he was born in S.F.), Machado graduated from Eureka High School before attending College of the Redwoods and Humboldt State University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism in 2005. He started with KIEM as an intern in 1999 and has been the station's sports director for seven years.
Machado said he's "very excited" about the promotion and wants to "get the news department going in the right direction."
On a sadder note, meteorologist Jim Bernard, who has long been a respected fixture on the North Coast, announced on air last night that he plans to retire from his weatherman position due to unspecified health problems. Frostenson said there's currently no timetable set for Bernard's departure.
A story in today's Wall Street Journal (dateline: BLUE LAKE, Calif.) offers a withering indictment of biomass energy plants, with Blue Lake's own serving as exhibit A. The story opens on the "malodorous brown smoke" that billowed from the plant two years ago (Heidi Walters wrote about it shortly afterward) and goes on to suggest that biomass plants collectively are dirty, dirty polluters bilking American taxpayers for hundreds of millions in green subsidies.
Reporters Justin Scheck and Ianthe Jeanne Dugan report that biomass plants in the U.S. have received "at least $700 million in federal and state green-energy subsidies since 2009 ... ."
Yet of 107 U.S. biomass plants that the [Wall Street] Journal could confirm were operating at the start of this year, the [Wall Street] Journal analysis shows that 85 have been cited by state or federal regulators for violating air-pollution or water-pollution standards at some time during the past five years, including minor infractions.
They don't say how many of the infractions were minor. The rest of the authors' case against biomass relies largely on anecdotes about bad apples, particularly a Fresno-based plant called Madera Power that was repeatedly caught -- and fined for -- burning plastic.
Kevin Leary, the co-owner of Blue Lake Power, offers the story's money quote, griping that, "It's goddamn hard to stay in compliance."
The authors say that Blue Lake Power has received more than $7 million in federal grants and subsidies. Addressing the fallout from the plant's 2010 smokeout they report:
The North Coast Air Quality Management District investigated and found several violations. It reached a settlement with Mr. Leary requiring Blue Lake to pay $1.4 million but allowed it to spend most of the money buying new pollution-control equipment and developing better operating practices rather than paying the agency.
How dare they, right?
We won't go so far as to suggest that the story has an anti-green energy slant, but it's worth noting that the authors allow the claim that biomass is "dirtier than coal power in certain ways" to go by unchallenged.
To their credit they do acknowledge that, "Fossil-fuel industries also receive government subsidies."
But they don't dwell on it.
Press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:
On 07-23-2012, approximately 10:00 p.m. Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Deputies responded to a naked 19 year old female walking the middle of Briceland Road, Redway. The deputies could see the female had cuts on her legs and arms. There were two females following her attempting to stop her. When the deputies exited their patrol car the female jumped up on top of the railing of the Redway Bridge, Redway. The female jumped over the railing of the bridge and began walking along the outside ledge which was approximately 8 inches in diameter. The female was swaying back and forth while walking on the ledge. The drop from the ledge to the river below was approximately 150 feet. Deputies requested medical immediately respond to the scene to assist.
Deputy Bryan Waxler spoke with the female and was able to get within ten feet of her. The female suddenly began to walk quickly away from the deputy and began to lose her footing, with her right foot slipping off the railing. Deputy Waxler was able to grab the female’s right wrist and pull her towards him, stopping her from falling off the bridge and pulled her to safety. She was transported to a local hospital for treatment.
"Our parks are closing! Our parks are closing!"
And so the terrible cry rose up from all of the would-be campers, nature-strollers, deer watchers, bird oglers and others drawn to our state parks. California was in deep deficit doo-doo, and 70 of our 278 parks had to close in order to save $22 million. Some of our Humboldt-area treasures were on the block.
The scramble by ordinary citizens, business owners, nonprofits and even the federal government to rescue most of these parks from closure should have brought tears to your eyes.
Now, of course, all we can is hear is a loud, collective snort of scorn and disbelief: For more than a decade, according to an investigation by the Sacramento Bee, the California State Parks department has been sitting on "nearly $54 million in surplus money." And nobody knew. Yes, there've been personnel changes since the pile of money was discovered. Notes the Bee:
Parks Director Ruth Coleman stepped down, and chief deputy Michael Harris was let go, amid questions about the underreported funds dating back 12 years, according to Clark Blanchard, a spokesman for the secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, which oversees the parks department.
The infuriating news nips at the heels of a previous Bee investigation into an unauthorized vacation buyout program at State Parks in which certain top employees sold back unused vacation time. Buybacks had been suspended since 2007 because of the budget -- so State Parks schemed to let buyouts happen secretly:
To avoid a paper trail, the buyout requests were submitted in some cases only on Post-It notes, not official forms, according to an internal parks department audit obtained by The Bee. ... The buyouts cost more than $271,000, said Richard Stapler, a spokesman for the California Natural Resources Agency, which oversees the parks department. The money was spent even as the department was planning the unprecedented closure of 70 state parks due to budget cuts.
Hey -- who wants to go camping?!
Or, at least, an early-on notion.
In his book The Golden Age Is in Us: Journeys & Encounters 1987-1994 (published in 1996), Alexander Cockburn (who died Friday), starts with a short essay -- written in 1987 after he went to a funeral in Key West -- musing on possibilities for his own funeral (and on the pitfalls in Lefty send-offs):
Previously: "He Knew How To Live."
Cockburn pissed off the Right:
"Alex was an influential voice in a generation of leftists who did an enormous disservice to this country and the world at large by carrying on a political tradition and promoting a political cause that killed 100 million people in the 20th Century - in peacetime - and consigned more than a billion others to immeasurable and unnecessary poverty, even starvation, by imposing on them the crackpot socialist schemes of Karl Marx and his misguided disciples."
-- David Horowitz, "Alex Cockburn: A Bitter Life," Front Page Magazine, July 23.
He pissed off (some might say "betrayed") the Left:
"Cockburn has taken the worst of the Exxon-Inhofe pooh-poohing of human-generated atmospheric change and melded it with a "Left" analysis of a vast conspiracy among government environmental agencies and private foundations."
-- Joseph A. Palermo, "Alexander Cockburn: The Left's Global Warming Denier," Huffington Post, May 21, 2007.
That was in response to Cockburn's assertion that "anthropogenic global warming is a farce" (Real Clear Politics, Dec. 24, 2009), to wit:
"The global warming jamboree in Copenhagen was surely the most outlandish foray into intellectual fantasizing since the fourth-century Christian bishops assembled in 325 AD for the Council of Nicaea to debate whether God the Father was supreme or had to share equal status in the pecking order of eternity with his Son and the Holy Ghost."
But those examples are far, far from the sum of him. Newspapers, bloggers, professors, lovers, haters -- everyone's remembering him, the whole world over.
For many years, Cockburn did much of his provoking from his woodsy, cozy, art- and light-filled home -- which always smelled of good cooking, visitors reported -- and gardening haven in Petrolia. His mountain redoubt was long guarded by the one thing (we suppose) that he dared put on a pedestal, a crusty old rusty typewriter:
Where is Dave Chappelle? Would you believe Fortuna?
The reclusive stand up comedy legend repped a black, stoner-font-emblazoned "Humboldt" sweatshirt when he was spotted by a few local residents in Fortuna's Starbucks on Wednesday evening.
The one time "Chappelle's Show" star and a friend were taking a break from their motorcycle trip up Highway 101 and struck up a conversation with Mikkei Fritz, an actor from Oregon who was in town visiting his cousin, Frank Florvilus, and Frank's wife, Ashley Florvilus. The following is Mikkei's first-hand account of the momentous run in:
"We greeted each other while I was at the register. I asked if he has been around traveling and he said, "Yea. I'm just taking my time and making my way up north as I find myself." He didn't say what his final destination was going to be. Then we started talking about my job at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He asked what shows and roles I was in. I told him I was Balthazar in Romeo and Juliet and I played a cheerleader in The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa. I really hope he remembers all of it and stops by Ashland to watch me in a show since he is traveling north. He ordered a regular coffee with cream. As I was leaving I asked if I could get a quick picture and he didn't have a problem with that. The last thing he said to me was, "I don't even know you, but I already know you're a great guy, a better guy than me." We laughed and shook hands and said goodbye to each other."
There you have it, Humboldt. If you had only been in Fortuna last night ... If possible, try to limit your "I'm Rick James, beitch!" comments to one per person.
Above photo used by permission courtesy of Ashley Florvilus. Thanks, Ash.
UPDATE 12:24 p.m.: Well, well! Another facebooked photo has surfaced from Mr. Chappelle's pitstop in the Friendly City. This one, courtesy of Victorian Bath and Body co-owner Sara Pleshakov, was clearly taken in front of Fortuna's stucco-wonderful Strongs Creek Plaza. (Click the photo to biggify.) Double proof!
Via Facebook IM, Sara adds:
"Dave Chappelle asked where we were from and we said "Palo Alto or Shallow Alto" and he laughed and said, "I like that you girls are funny." So I guess now I can say I made Dave Chappelle laugh."
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